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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Acorn Squash Bisque and Flan

When you have roasted enough acorn squash with maple syrup, and are ready for a couple of new ideas, try these: acorn bisque and flan.

 I had quite a few acorn squash appear in my garden this year, which was kind of a surprise.  I sort of remember putting in the plants, but I really didn't do anything else; the squash just appeared in finished form.  My kind of plants!

When I looked them up, I found out they are ready to harvest when the orange dot appears on the side.  Mine almost all had orange dots, and looked gratifyingly like the kind you'd buy at the market.  

Also, I learned from Wikipedia that "Although considered a winter squash, acorn squash belongs to the same species as all "summer" squashes (including zucchini and yellow crookneck squash)."  Huh.  So it's an in-between kind of squash, which explains why it's a bit different from other, true winter squashes.  The flesh is less yellow, and the flavor is milder.  When working with this squash, I found that seasoning must be done with a light hand in order to not overwhelm the delicate taste.

An aside:  It's also been a bumper year for actual acorns from our oak trees, perhaps because of all the rain.  But they are banging down the metal roof and bouncing off the deck like superballs.  Heidi keeps trying to eat them, which is worrying.  I suppose they are not poisonous, since the deer eat them, but they are full of bitter tannins.  There are instructions online about how to grind the acorn nuts and soak them to leach out the tannins, then dry and grind this to produce acorn flour.  I'm not going there.

I made a base from pureed acorn squash and used it to make both flan and bisque, both of which were pleasing in different ways.

Acorn Squash Bisque and Flan

Acorn Squash Base
  •  Split, seed and place acorn squash face-down on an oiled roasting pan.  Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Saute 1 small-to-medium red onion in 3 T unsalted butter until translucent.
  • Scoop out flesh into food processor bowl with blade attached.  Add the red onion and butter from the saute pan.  Puree until very smooth.
  • Add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp marjoram, a pinch of nutmeg and white pepper.  Mix.
To make the bisque:
  • Put the base mixture into a large saucepan, and add 1 cup chicken stock and another 1/2 cup cream.  Puree with handheld mixer over heat:

  • Add 1 tsp Sambuca liqueur, and adjust salt and pepper.  Resist the urge to put in more Sambuca.  One tsp is enough.
  •  Serve with sliced basil just submerged on top.

To make the flan:
  • Leave the base mixture in the food processor and add 3 eggs and 1 T corn starch (rather than the procedure above for the bisque).  Process well.
  • Pour into large ramekins which have been sprayed with cooking spray, or rubbed with olive oil.
  • Fill ramekins with the mixture to within 1/2" of the top.
  • Put 1/2" of warm water into a large roasting pan, and set the ramekins in the pan.  Bake at 325F for 30 minutes, or until puffed and done all the way through.
  • Serve immediately

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